Having a Family Emergency Plan in place is essential for ensuring the safety and well-being of your loved ones in the event of an emergency. Emergencies can take many forms, including natural disasters, health emergencies, or even a sudden power outage. No matter the cause, being prepared can make a significant difference in how well your family is able to cope with the situation.
On a side note: things are much easier to remember if the acronyms are funny. So I was considering naming it Family Action Plan. That would be much easier to remember, but that name is a bit too vague. 😉
The first step in creating a Family Emergency Plan is to identify a meeting place where your family can gather in the event that you are separated. It’s a good idea to choose two locations, one near your home and one further away, in case you are unable to return home. Make sure that everyone in the family knows where these locations are and how to get there. If you plan to evacuate to a specific location (bug-out location), meeting places should be placed along the desired evacuation route.
Next, establish a communication plan. This should include multiple ways to get in touch with each other, such as text messaging, phone calls, email, and social media. In case network connection is lost, the plan might include alternative means of communication, e.g. CB radio. It’s also a good idea to designate one person as the main point of contact, who will be responsible for gathering information and disseminating it to the rest of the family.
Obviously to make that possible, the Family Emergency Plan needs to include all the contact information. Yes, we keep it stored in our mobile phones, but what if the phones are no longer operational (discharged or broken)? This information should include not only your close ones’ phone numbers, but also social media handles and physical addresses, work place and the extension number to reach their desks. Emergencies happen also when people are at work and school, not only on the weekends.
Once you have a meeting place and communication plan in place, it’s time to identify the roles and responsibilities of each family member. This will depend on the specific needs and capabilities of each individual, as well as the type of emergency that you are preparing for. Some tasks might include gathering emergency supplies and kits, securing the home and property, evacuating the home if necessary, checking on and assisting neighbors, communicating with authorities and emergency services, and coordinating with the designated point of contact.
In addition to assigning roles and responsibilities, it’s also important to make sure that your family has the necessary supplies and equipment to handle an emergency. This might include
- non-perishable food (emergency rations, canned food, rice and beans),
- water and water purification equipment (chlorine tablets, water filters),
- first aid supplies,
- flashlights with spare batteries,
- a hand-crank radio,
and any other essentials that you might need. It’s a good idea to keep these supplies in a central location, such as a basement or utility closet, and to regularly check and restock them as needed. If you expect the need to evacuate at some point, building a bug-out bag is also an option.
Another important aspect of preparing for an emergency is to familiarize yourself with the types of disasters that are most likely to occur in your area, and to know what to do in each situation. This might include knowing how to shut off gas and water lines, where to find emergency shelters, and how to communicate with authorities. It’s also a good idea to keep a list of important phone numbers, including those for emergency services, utility companies, and family and friends, in a central location that is easy to access.
It’s advisable to prepare a copy of the FEP for every member of the family to have always on hand (for example in their wallet), one for every family car, a couple of copies for the home, and at least one for every work place and school of the kids (e.g. to be kept in their locker). Due to the fact that it might contain sensitive information, one may consider encrypting some of the information there.
Finally, it’s important to practice and review your Family Emergency Plan regularly to ensure that everyone is prepared and knows what to do in the event of an emergency. This might include conducting drills or simulations, or simply going over the plan with your family to make sure that everyone is familiar with their roles and responsibilities.
In summary, preparing a Family Emergency Plan is an essential step in ensuring the safety and well-being of your loved ones. By identifying a meeting place, establishing a communication plan, assigning roles and responsibilities, gathering necessary supplies and equipment, and familiarizing yourself with the types of disasters that are most likely to occur in your area, you can be confident that your family is prepared for any emergency that might arise.